Adam Hedengren
Last updated: 17 March, 2014

6 poets changing Iran from within

Rosa Jamali, Roya Zarrin, Aida Amidi, Anna Lamsoo, Fateme Ekhtesari, and Bahareh Rezaee. Six female poets who, according to Swedish literary magazine Karavan, are working in Iran to challenge society from the inside.

Sociologist Asef Bayat has written extensively about the creeping disruption taking place in the urban setting of modern Teheran. Little by little, fundamental changes are made by the marginalized segments of society, which he calls “subalterns”; be it a street vendor or underground Islamic feminism.

“Poetry, for this new generation, becomes an impervious expression in a patriarchal society

In a similar vain, a new generation of female poets is using the art form to find freedom within their internal exile. They combine erotic sensuality with a sharp feminist critic of society that creates a vacuum of precious freedom.

A blogger writes of Aida Amidi that she “takes us inside the mind of a beautiful young Iranian woman as she interacts with lovers past and present, herself, and the world.” History is never far away. Their poetry is one that mirrors the many dramatic turns of modern Iranian history, such as the Iran-Iraq War. 

Forough Farrokhzad and Simin Behbahani, considered by many the greatest Iranian poets of our time, remain a constant source for inspiration. The latter has been nominated for a Nobel Prize on numerous occasions, while Farrokhzad died in a tragic car accident at an early age. But her disruptive writing revolutionized Iranian poetry with a female voice: “If you let me fly, I become a flower in the garden of poetry,” she wrote (ed. trans.).

The words of resistance flow from Farrokhzad and Behbahani to their contemporary disciples. Poetry, for this new generation, becomes an impervious expression in a patriarchal society. In a country that still revers this ancient art form, it may very well be the best way to challenge injustice from within.

ALSO READ: Following #readwomen2014? Here’s a list of 12 Arab writers – one for each month.